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The Mobile revolution: Is your business ready?

It has been predicted for many years that we were getting close to the stage when Smartphones would overtake pc’s as the preferred device to access the internet. Well, it did finally happen in 2015 and the chart below comes from Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Market Report. The report, published in August of last year found that 33% of internet users see their smartphone as the preferred device for going online, whilst 30% still prefer their laptop.

ofcom internet usage

The chart above clearly shows the ramp up in usage of smartphones and the decline in usage of the more traditional desktop and laptop. It is not too surprising as we have become a smartphone society in recent years. Nearly two thirds of the UK adult population own a smartphone and in the 16-24 age group the figure increases to 90%. People have become so attached to their devices and would struggle to exist without it. After all it is a multi-functional device, allowing its user to stay in touch through all the social media channels (and sometimes even talk to people by using it as a phone!), and enable them to do everything from taking photos, surfing the internet or watch a movie. What does it all mean? Apart from reducing the physical interaction we used to all enjoy in previous years, the smartphone revolution is currently having a significant impact on businesses. More on that later!

smartphoneIn one way, it means more people are becoming ‘social’ through the various channels of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and many others. However, the other side to this is that people are becoming less physically social. It can be quite sad to see families out at a restaurant and everyone is ‘glued’ to their phone with very little interaction between them. According to the Ofcom report, 42% of people admit to checking their phone at the dinner table! On a more positive note, it does enable people to keep in touch with friends and maintain relationships that would otherwise dwindle. It’s like most things in life, getting the balance right is important.

google search on a laptopIn the case of businesses who have an online presence, more potential customers are viewing their website with a phone. Therefore, if this experience is less than optimum (i.e. lots of zooming and scrolling) it could result in lost business. It has been shown in studies that 40% of users have turned to a competitor's site after a bad mobile experience. In addition, Google has announced that it will be expanding its ranking algorithm to include how ‘mobile friendly’ a site is and this is something that has far reaching implications for all businesses.  So what does this mean? If a company has a website that is either not responsive*, or does not have a related mobile** website, then Google will ‘favour’ other sites that do, when displaying its search results. The fact that smartphones have become the most frequently used device to access the internet, means that businesses need to think about their online strategy and make sure that this change in viewing habits does not have a detrimental impact on their business. If your business does not have a mobile friendly website, you are likely to be losing business, either through a visitor leaving your site or a less favourable ranking in the search engine meaning you could have reduced exposure and fewer visitors.

*a responsive website is one that can provide an optimum visitor experience by being capable of adapting the design and resizing the content to fit the screen being used. Responsive websites are more expensive than standard websites due to the additional design work involved.

**a mobile website is a separate site that has been specifically designed for a mobile. When a visitor accesses a site from their mobile phone, the system detects this and redirects them to the mobile site.

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